You know that you’re getting old when your kids laugh at your original iPod, calling it an antique. It’s only six years old. My original EMR is a little older than that.
Now that I’m merging practices, I’ll be transitioning to a new EMR. Although it’s probably just the natural progression of being an early adopter, moving to my second EMR adds to my angst about aging in a modern world.
Learning a new system has been a bit humbling. I can recall the days of my first implementation and the frustration of being out of my groove while caring for sick patients. We are after all, creatures of habit, and transitioning EMRs is not that dissimilar to moving from paper to computer. It also reminds me of the inefficient work-arounds that one accepts over the years.
Sometimes the effort needed to make change seems greater than, what in reality, is merely a minor adjustment in workflow. Designing templates again from this fresh perspective is great, and for those of you who haven’t tried this, I can assure you that the creative process is invigorating.
Overall, I would report that the good news when learning a new system is that the learning curve is much more manageable. This is mostly due to the fact that, aside from some minor differences in the user interface and some new bells and whistles, the overall user experience has not changed much in all these years. I guess, though, that this is also the bad news.
Contrast the change in the iPod user’s experience over a shorter period of time. In 2004, the first iPod Mini came out, soon followed by the iPod photo (in color!). The tiny IPOD shuffle came out just a year later, which was soon followed by the iPod Nano. The current iPod Touch was announced in September, 2007.
The popularity of the iPod is clearly due to its continuing emphasis on aesthetics, while making sure that it fits into users’ varied activities and changing lifestyles. Basically, a cool interface, with an ability to easily download endless new apps, has tremendous appeal. Furthermore, the ITunes software lets users seamlessly transfer data between systems.
Now without carrying the analogy too far, can you say the same about your EMR?
The truth is that as far as gadgets go, EMRs are still geeky and haven’t attained the coolness factor associated with BlackBerries and iPhones. When EMR vendors can reflect the same consumerist mentality, we’ll need far fewer incentives to promote adoption.
Joel Diamond, MD is chief medical officer at dbMotion, adjunct associate professor at the Department of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and a practicing physician at UPMC.